Why don't aspirin and ibuprofen seem to help with fibromyalgia?

A Answers (2)

  • AStacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answered

    Aspirin and ibuprofen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These drugs can be quite effective when treating conditions that cause inflammation, but fibromyalgia doesn't cause any inflammation. As a result, NSAIDs aren't very effective at treating the condition. However, in some cases, they can be effective when used in combination with other medications. Talk to your doctor about what medications you should be taking to treat your fibromyalgia.

    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • ACeleste Cooper, Rheumatology, answered

    Aspirin and ibuprofen may have some analgesic effect and may ease pain if you have a coexisting inflammatory condition. However, fibromyalgia is considered a disorder that involves centralization of pain, meaning that the pain and autonomic dysfunctions are related to inappropriate responses by the brain.

    A recent study (Kadetoff, et al.) does indicate that there is an excess of cytokines (pro inflammatory cellular messaging) in the spinal fluid of fibromyalgia patients, particularly IL-8 (a type of cytokine), however, IL-8 was found to be low in fibromyalgia patient’s blood. Also an elevated sedimentation rate which measures inflammation in the body in a blood test, is not elevated in fibromyalgia patients. 

    This could explain why aspirin and ibuprofen, which work as an anti-inflammatories to relieve pain don’t work as well as some other medications.

    Kadetoff D, Lampa J, Westman M, Andersson M, Kosek E. Evidence of central inflammation in fibromyalgia –Increased cerebrospinal fluid interleukin-8 levels.  J Neuroimmunol. 2011 Nov 27.

    All blogs, posts and answers are based on the work in Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by Celeste Cooper, RN, and Jeff Miller, PhD. 2010, Vermont: Healing Arts press and are not meant to replace medical advice.


    Author of Chapter Five, Living with and Coping Effectively Through Fibromyalgia: Detecting Barriers, Understanding the Clues, in Fibromyalgia Insider Secrets: 10 Top Experts, 2nd Ed. Ebook complied by Deirdre Rawlings, ND, PhD


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